It’s not every day someone tells you you’ve got a second chance at life. But that’s exactly what happened to Jason, 46, who was misdiagnosed with terminal testicular cancer 23 years ago.
At the time, he was working as a plumber in the Northern Territory and Sarah, 45, had come to join him, getting a job at Alice Springs Hospital. The couple wanted to take some time off work to show a friend around Kakadu, so Jason decided to throw a sickie. Little did he know, just days later, he’d be told he had months to live.
“We wanted to go to Kakadu for a couple of days, so I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’” Jason says. “Because I was working at the RAAF (air force) base, I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve had this tiny lump on the side of my testicle, I’m going to go see the RAAF doctor, and get it looked at.”
Jason admits he was just looking for an excuse to take that sicky. The last thing he expected was to told he’d have to drop everything and go immediately to get more tests.
“I was thinking, ‘This is a bit over the top,’” Jason explains. But he went up to Darwin anyway, just to put his mind at ease. A few hours later - he was told some devastating news.
“This guy sits me down and says, ‘By the way - it looks like you have got testicular cancer,’” Jason says. “‘And it looks like it’s spread to your groan, up through your stomach and up into your lungs.’ I am sitting there, like, ‘What? What are you saying?’ And he says, ‘Three to six months for you.’”
In shock, Jason went out into the waiting area, where Sarah was there, ready to take him home.
When he told her, she assumed he was having a laugh.
“I thought he was joking,” she admits. “And then all of a sudden, he’s gone - just hit the deck.”
“I went black and passed out,” Jason admits.
The couple then went down to Melbourne, to see a specialist, who booked him in for immediate surgery.
“We saw a urologist in Sandringham, and he had his testicle removed,” Sarah explains. “Then, about three or four days later, he was home, and the doctor rings and says, ‘You have won TATTSLotto - there is nothing to worry about. You are clear.”
“They saw scarring and thought they were metastases. They had put the fear of god in him, and told him he was dying. But it was nothing.”
Jason realises just how lucky he was to have been given the news, as it so easily could have been a different outcome for them all.
“The doctor told me, for the size of the tumour, for it to be benign, it was like having just won the lotto - I was that lucky,” Jason explains. “The whole thing was freaky - and something I will never forget.
“I’m a roll-with-the-punches type of person. Imagine being 23 and being told you’d be dead in less than a year? And this whole thing came from me trying to pull a sick day!”
“I was crazy lucky.”